Life Outside Amazon

Amazon has always been my biggest sales channel, but with the bottom dropping out of sales around the beginning of 2013, sales outside Amazon have stepped in to fill some of the gap.

What does it look like when the bottom drops out? Take a look at this graph, showing all sales (including borrows). These are units, not revenue. (Click the thumbnails to enlarge.)


What I really want to show is the net effect of all sales outside Amazon. Check out this graph:


Some help reading this graph: these are units (sales+borrows) for all non-Amazon channels. Notice 2012 is low; I only had a book or two outside of KDP Select during that year, so I couldn’t sell at B&N, Kobo, Apple, etc.

What’s interesting here is the distribution of non-Amazon sales. Kobo, Apple and B&N are the clear leaders. Also, the rise and fall of sales is fairly consistent with the holidays.

But what’s most interesting here is Kobo. Since March of this year, I’ve had month-over-month increases at Kobo. I just had my best month at Kobo in August.


Conversely, B&N sales are steadily declining.


Apple is all over the place, but most recently I’ve seen a gradual increase since May.

I’m not sure what’s causing the increase at Kobo. Sony recently shut down and Kobo took over their existing customers, but I never had great Sony sales.

Could be Nook customers are abandoning B&N. Those customers might not be the Amazon type, so the next best thing could be a move to Kobo or Apple. As Nook devices age, iPads might be replacing them, with the Kobo app or iBooks stepping in to serve the need.

What I can say is that 35% or more of my sales are coming from outside Amazon these days. Plus, I’ve had a few borrows now through Oyster. Yet another revenue stream. All in all, too much to go exclusive. I’ve talked in the past about the benefits of diversification across channels. These kinds of increases make me even more certain I should be on all platforms. There is a market outside Amazon.

So if you’re not selling on Kobo or the other platforms yet, maybe you just need to hang in there. I spent a long time at Kobo with nothing to show for it, only to see sales inexplicably pick up. Apple’s picking up too.  Something to consider when you publish your books. To me, KDP Select is a short-term strategy. As writers we’re in this for the long-haul, so being available to as many readers as possible is the best long-term approach we can take.


2 thoughts on “Life Outside Amazon

  1. TAWilliams September 1, 2014 / 11:52 am

    Definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind. My KDP Select period expires the end of September and I’m not sure if I’ll sign up for another 90 days.
    I’m also waiting to see the per borrow payout for August with Kindle Unlimited. I’m getting a lot of borrows from that but if the pay out is small then it will give me a lot to think about.

    • Brian J. Jarrett September 1, 2014 / 12:21 pm

      I’m hearing KU payouts are around $2.00, similar to the payouts for KOLL (Kindle Owner’s Lending Library). Not sure how that’ll actually play out though.

      I opted The Crossover Gene into Select, so I’m anxious to see how many borrows it gets. Since it’s a bit of a departure for me, I’m hoping folks take advantage of KU and try it out. After 90 days though I plan to take it out of Select and put it up everywhere else.

      I spent nearly all of 2012 in Select. But now my goal is to make my books available to as many people as I can. For me, that’s being on all platforms. If you look at any of the Big 5 NY publishers, none of them are exclusive with Amazon, even the ones with books in KU and KOLL. Only indies are forced to go exclusive.

      Am I losing some exposure and a few sales on Amazon? Maybe, but I’m in this for the rest of my life. I’ll take the short-term hit to ensure everyone with any device can discover and read me (even those who prefer paper). I’m also opted into Oyster and Scribd to increase exposure (had a few Oyster borrows already).

      Everyone’s mileage varies and everyone has different goals, so going exclusive may work better for some. I’m just not comfortable putting all my eggs in one basket, not for the long haul at least.

      Good luck! I hope whichever way you go works out great for you.

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